For many, getting out of school is the first thing on their mind, but for Luke Rurawhe and his cohort of classmates that is not the case.

The EIT graduates have recently completed the institutions' innovative Bachelor of Teaching (Primary) degree - the first Institute of Technology/Polytechnic (ITP) in New Zealand to do so.

Starting the new year with a job at Peterhead School in Flaxmere, with four others in his degree, Mr Rurawhe cannot be more thrilled.

"I love learning myself. I love the thought of being a life-long learner. I get satisfaction out of teaching youngsters, seeing them succeed in school. I think it's great," Mr Rurawhe said.

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Of Ngati Apa descent, the former Hastings Boys' High School student worked in building and retail jobs before deciding on a teaching career.

"I brainstormed ideas with my mother Gwen, and because I enjoyed coaching children's sports, she suggested teaching. She's a bit of a hero."

Just three years in, the pioneering course gained traction after an approach by the principals of four Hawke's Bay schools.

Launched with six partnering schools, the degree now encompasses 22 schools, with a further three on the waiting list.

EIT broke new ground with the level of practice-based learning included in the degree. Each week, trainee teachers spend two days at designated schools and two on campus. They also undertake five school-based block practicums over three years - a total of 22 weeks. Mr Rurawhe, from Havelock North, found the structure of the degree a good fit.

"It was right up my alley for how to learn, hands-on in the classroom. It sounded very intriguing, and it was good that the programme was being offered locally."

"All the schools have different children coming through the gates and I have grown because of those different experiences. It's hands-on with the kids and I've learnt so much in the classroom," the accomplished sportsman said.

Kirsty Jones, teacher educator on the EIT programme, praised his efforts. "He will be a fantastic role model for children."